Given that the Tesla Model S has risen to the clear #1 position in my sales reports, I think it’s important to reiterate that Model S sales are estimated. The estimates are based on many statements and data points, such as official total sales numbers from Tesla, approximate US sales numbers based on a handful of statements by Elon Musk and registration numbers or media reports from numerous foreign countries with significant Tesla sales, and Tesla sales projections. No doubt about it, the final numbers I report are estimates, but they are based on quite a lot of information that makes me confident enough to include Tesla in the reports. (Though, I still wish Tesla would just give us its numbers….)
With that said, the October estimate for the Tesla Model S propels the high-end performance sedan into a strong leadership position, both in October and for the year through October. Nissan LEAF sales lagged so much as buyers awaited the longer-range 2016 LEAF, and Chevy Volt sales picked up so much (>100% growth compared to September 2015), that the Volt propelled itself from #4 in September to #2 in October.
The LEAF actually clung to its spot at #3, though. It was the BMW i3 that dropped from #2 to #4, with a sharp dropoff in sales from September (1,710) to October (986). That was presumably due to high fleet sales in September, as 986 is still a relatively high sales number for the i3.
Across the board, I think there are many potential EV buyers waiting on new models to arrive — the Tesla Model X, 2016/2017 Chevy Volt, 2016/2017 Nissan LEAF, 2016 BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, and even the Tesla Model 3, of course.
The top 4 in October are also the top 4 for the year through October, but with the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF swapping places.
Beyond the top 4, the Ford Fusion Energi and Ford C-Max Energi have a stronghold on #5 and #6, respectively. Actually, if you combine the two and pretend they are one offering from Ford, they would have been #3 in October and for the year through October. Routinely behind them is the #7 Volkswagen e-Golf, which has much more limited availability than any of the models above, and then there’s a sharp dropoff with much lower sales numbers of 14 other compliance cars and high-end performance/luxury cars like the BMW i8, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and Cadillac ELR.
The net effect of all of this is that overall US electric car sales were up about 9.3% in October 2015 compared to October 2014, while the year through October has pure-electric cars up 13%, plug-in hybrids down 23%, and the overall electric car market down 4%. This looks depressing if you don’t have the context of several hot and highly anticipated electric models just beginning to hit the market or planned for the coming year. Of course, even with that context, it’s a bit depressing. However, I’m eager to see November and December numbers as the 2016 Volt, 2016 LEAF, and Model X roll out to many more customers — and 2016 should be a blast.